ASA Withdraws From Leonardo Academy’s Sustainable Ag Standard Development Process
Press Release — ST. LOUIS, MO — October 19, 2010 — The American Soybean Association (ASA) today announced that it is withdrawing from the Leonardo Academy’s initiative to develop a sustainable agriculture standard for American National Standards Institute. While ASA supports the goal of a sustainable agriculture standard, it has become clear that that the Leonardo Academy process is biased against a balanced and open analysis of modern agriculture. Fifty-four other commodity and farm organizations representing U.S. production agriculture interests joined ASA in withdrawing from the Leonardo Academy’s process.
“This decision was not made easily,” said ASA Board member Ron Moore, a soybean producer from Roseville, Ill., “for it means walking away from nearly two years of investment in active Leonardo Academy Committee membership in an effort to produce an ‘on-farm’ standard. However, it is clear based on actions this past summer that any continued effort cannot and will not overcome the serious systemic limitations and chronic biases that are inherent in the structure the Leonardo Academy has set up for this initiative.” After being elected Vice-Chair of the Standards Committee at its inception, Moore has served as Acting Chairman since June 2010.
Despite the Leonardo Academy’s claim that the Committee is made up of members from “across all areas of agriculture,” in reality the Committee is dominated by environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents. These groups have neither the vision nor desire to speak for the farmers of mainstream agriculture who produce more than 95 percent of the food consumed in or exported by the United States.
“U.S. farmers are very much dedicated to the long-term sustainability of their farms and their farming practices,” Moore said. “For this reason, farmers will embrace an achievable roadmap for the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability, but only if they are part of its development. We are committed to working toward such goals in the hope that widespread adoption will contribute to real sustainability of American agriculture. This cannot occur within the Leonardo Academy process.”
Over 900 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition today, so having a sustainable food supply is of primary importance worldwide. In the next 20 to 30 years, agricultural output must double in order to feed the projected population growth.
Voting delegates at ASA’s 2010 annual policy-setting meeting signaled their support for sustainable agriculture, voting that “ASA supports developing a progressive definition of agriculture sustainability that encompasses profitable, intensive production and encourages consumer acceptance of biotechnology enhanced products and satisfies food, feed, fiber and biofuel needs.” The voting delegates also re-affirmed their support for the statutory definition of sustainable agriculture included in the 1990 Farm Bill.
ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.
Ron Moore, ASA Board member
Cassandra Langley, Communications Coordinator
Unfortunately, I see this happening in Iowa all the time. Commodity groups and commodity farmers are blocked out of discussions about sustainability, to the detriment of the environment. There has to be a meeting of the minds and at least a little compromise for anything useful to happen. The environmental groups need to understand that even a small change for the better on millions of acres of farmland would be HUGE for the environment. Demanding huge changes won’t get them anywhere. We need to really work toward a better agriculture for everyone, not just give lip service to the idea.
One recent example of this in Iowa is Francis Thicke’s campaign to be state secretary of agriculture. He’s got some great ideas for sustainable farming but no idea of how to get big commodity farmers to use them, so he’s pretty much ignoring them. What that means for his campaign we will see on election day, but if he is elected we know what it means for the environment. Ignoring the 94% of farmland isn’t organic means we don’t get that 94% to be farmed with more sustainable methods. Of course, Bill Northey (Thicke’s opponent) doesn’t have any bright ideas on how to get commodity farms to be more sustainable either, but at least he knows how to talk to most farmers – not just the few organic or specialty ones.
It would not be difficult to rank this as the most important event in agriculture in the last 14 years. The gaggle of activist groups and others eager to monetize opposition to modern agriculture have conclusively been rejected.
Hopefully, those signatories to the letter of withdrawal will continue spurning the crooks, charlatans and camp-followers who denigrate agriculture for fun and profit.
Where are the howls of rage and offended vanity by the opponents of modern agriculture? Or conversely, the attempts to spin this event in their favor? Could it be that this event has left them dumbfounded?
Anyone know what the issues were that led to the withdrawal? I am really interested in learning more.
I took a very brief look around the Leonardo Academy web site (See:
and didn’t find anything relating to this pull out. You may want to contact the Iowa Soybean affiliate of the ASA. I know some folks with the Ohio Soybean Council and will see what they know about this.
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